MEP from Forest Gate selected as interim Ukip leader
- Credit: Archant
A politician from Forest Gate has been selected as Ukip’s interim leader and has promised to make it a “populist party”.
Gerard Batten, who has been an MEP since 2004, took control of the party at the weekend after leader Henry Bolton was ousted following a vote of no confidence.
Party members voted by 867 to 500 to remove Mr Bolton from the role during a crisis meeting in Birmingham. He had only been elected to the post in September.
Mr Batten said: “I feel optimistic that Ukip can and will grow stronger and more successful because ordinary patriotic people want, need and deserve a party that represents their interests.
“Ukip came into being because it filled a political vacuum. That vacuum still exists.
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“I want Ukip to be a populist party - popular because its policies are what people actually want.”
He added: “We have had many crises in Ukip and I think this one was about whether we have a future or not.”
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Mr Batten, who stood for a seat on Newham Council for the now-defunct Park ward in 1993 as an Anti-Federalist League candidate before contesting Forest Gate North as a Ukip candidate in 2002, has also defened his description of Islam as a “death cult”.
He made the comments in a blog written shortly after last year’s Westminster terror attack.
Speaking on Sky News’ Sunday with Niall Paterson, Mr Batten said: “They believe in propagating their religion by killing other people and martyring themselves and going and getting their 72 virgins.
“Not all of them - that’s not saying that all of them do believe that or do that - I’m saying that a significant minority believe that and they are the problem.
“But the trouble is they are justified in those beliefs by a literalist interpretation of their own so-called holy texts.”
Mr Batten, who did not rule out standing for the leadership on a permanent basis, dismissed the suggestion Mr Bolton could take legal action against the party, telling his predecessor: “Get on with the rest of your life.”
A fresh election will take place within 90 days.